TIH 547: Analysing Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King with Laurel Hightower, Part II

In this podcast, we give Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes the Story Unboxed treatment and begin to dissect and discuss this wonderful novel. This is the second part of our unboxing of Mr. Mercedes. Check out episode 526 for part one.

About Mr. Mercedes

The stolen Mercedes emerges from the pre-dawn fog and plows through a crowd of men and women in line for a job fair in a distressed American city. Then the lone driver backs up, charges again, and speeds off, leaving eight dead and more wounded. The case goes unsolved and ex-cop Bill Hodges is out of hope when he gets a letter from a man who loved the feel of death under the Mercedes’s wheels…

Brady Hartsfield wants that rush again, but this time he’s going big, with an attack that would take down thousands—unless Hodges and two new unusual allies he picks up along the way can throw a wrench in Hartsfield’s diabolical plans.

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TIH 547: Analysing Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King with Laurel Hightower, Part II


[00:00:00] Michael David Wilson: Welcome to the second part of the Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King unboxing. I'm Michael David Wilson. I'm joined by my co-host, Bob Pastor and special guest, Laurel Auer. How's it going, Laurel?

[00:00:18] Laurel Hightower: It's going good. I'm glad to be here. Had a, had an excellent Thanksgiving yesterday and glad to be settling in.

[00:00:26] How are y'all doing?

[00:00:27] Michael David Wilson: Pretty good. Pretty good. It is surreal, as I was saying, off air to be doing the second part of an unboxing, literally two months after the first part. But sometimes that is just the way that it goes, and that is the way that it has gone on this occasion. Bob, how are you doing?

[00:00:51] Bob Pastorella: I'm doing fine. I'm doing great.

[00:00:54] Uh, yeah, two months later we're back at it. We wanna talk about Bill Hodges, who I called Mr. Mercedes the other day, so Yeah, but he's not Mr. Mercedes, so, yeah.

[00:01:05] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. What, what was the context of that? Are you, you talking It was on two other people podcast.

[00:01:10] Bob Pastorella: Think it was podcast? No, I think it was on the podcast and I, I, I caught myself.

[00:01:14] I was like, not Mr. Mercedes, the, the detective guy.

[00:01:17] Michael David Wilson: Yeah,

[00:01:18] Bob Pastorella: I could think of a thing. I got sidetracked by my own memory. Yeah. Yeah. It happens when you get old.

[00:01:27] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, so I mean, one character that we scarcely mentioned in the first part was of course Jerome. And he starts off as Bill Hodge's handyman, and then pretty soon when things kind of get heavy with Mr.

[00:01:48] Mercedes and Hodges is receiving the correspondence, then Jerome comes in as like his kind of technological whizz and helping him with various issues. And of course towards the end there's then a, a trio, I mean like the, the power Trio of Jerome, Holly and Hodges. So I thought we should talk a little bit about Jerome.

[00:02:19] Do you have any general Jerome comments that you would like to make? Um, just

[00:02:25] Laurel Hightower: that I. I really, I liked the inclusion. I mean, we're gonna just go ahead and say the whole, uh, method of conversation that he has, the, was it Tyrone feel good or something where he lapses into, into that sort of commentary is a little bit, um, you know, frustrating and, and kind of problematic.

[00:02:45] But I, I, I don't want that to overshadow the character that he is, which is a really good one. And I really, you know, I was thinking about this and I've read the vast majority of Stephen King's stuff, and, you know, in horror there's often a mystery, right? But a lot of times it sort of unfolds without anyone.

[00:03:06] Necessarily even wanting it to, you know, and you've got Stephen King here being like, okay, I have to create a mystery and then have people solve it with detective work. And I thought that utilizing Jerome in that way meant that you could avoid the whole CSI team aspect of things. You know, you could get someone more naturally in, they're helping with it.

[00:03:24] And it showed, I don't know, I guess it gave us a more natural method of that problem solving, um, and, and how they came up with answers on it. And I mean, he's, he's kind of, he's an enjoyable character too. He's, he's overall just like, he's a really good kid. So I, I like that character very much.

[00:03:44] Bob Pastorella: Mm-Hmm. It's, it's like that he had to, bill had to have, you know, being a retired detective and he starts realizing that he's in involved in a mystery.

[00:03:55] And he can't really, he's kind of compromised, so he can't really go to the police because he wants to solve this on his own. And it's, it's a, it's it's personal in, in many ways and many layers. And so he, he begins to build, uh, through just, you know, natural, you know, communication and natural companionship.

[00:04:17] A a team, he doesn't even realize he's building a team. But if you, if you look at like, you know, your modern, you know, police force and you, you have a detective. The detective may not be that skilled in, in tech stuff. So you're gonna have, you know, you're gonna have some guy who's on the team, who's in forensics, who does, you know, cyber, you know, forensics and stuff like that.

[00:04:42] And so that's kinda like where, where Jerome comes in. You know, but I mean, it doesn't really start that way. He's just, you know, I, I'm, you know, I can make your computer work. I'm smart. I know how to do it. He's a smart kid. Uh, he's been around tech his entire life, uh, because of that generation. So, and, and Bill hasn't, he's, he's, you know, he's an old dog and, uh, you know, so he's, he's, it's kinda like my dad, you know, format C Drive.

[00:05:09] No, don't do that. You know, you know, so, uh, you know, that's, and my dad would get all kinds of weird stuff on his computer. It's like, no, that's an ad. Don't worry about it. You know, but he, and then, you know, bringing him in, and I think Bill's given him, like, when things start getting heavy, he's like, Hey, if you, if you're not wanting to do this, you know, and, but you get out, right?

[00:05:37] And Jerome's like, no, no, I want to help. So there, there's, there's a. It, it, it becomes personal to Jerome as well on on, on many different levels. And as we go through the rest of the story, we find out it's, it's even deeper than that, you know? So, um, it, to me it just, it felt, it felt like a natural thing, um, with this character.

[00:06:01] And, you know, and King, he, he doesn't plot ahead, but I mean, it's like, to me, I think it's just, it's, if he, if he wrote this character from the beginning like that, then it was just like, excellent. It's like, man, I need a tech guy. Well, shit, it's Jerome, you know? And so it, it's just, it, it all, it's like wheels of the cog, it all just fit together.

[00:06:21] And I, I, I re I really liked that aspect of it.

[00:06:25] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. And you were saying about, you know, Jerome's generation being very. Into an with tech. And just to put it in perspective, I mean, we know that he is looking at going to college. I think there are references to both Harvard and Princeton. So just to put into context, he is a high school student, so it, it's kind of interesting, like all, all the concerns that he must have.

[00:06:56] 'cause I mean, obviously being a handyman for Hodges, that is presumably too finance going to college in a year or so. But yeah, I, I feel like he begins as hired help for want of better phrasing. But then by the end of it, I mean that they are friends. He is in a sense, alongside Holly, his investigative partner and talking about Holly.

[00:07:28] It's quite an odd and awkward exchange when they first meet. Now, I can't see in my notes exactly how Holly phrases it, but she does essentially say something like, oh, you are black. I've never met a black person before or something.

[00:07:48] Laurel Hightower: I had forgotten that. Yeah. That was a very awkward exchange.

[00:07:53] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. But I, I, I guess that King is doing that to, to just show like the, the awkwardness of Holly.

[00:08:03] I mean, she's very socially unaware and even though she is Janie's cousin, as I believe we said in the first part, if, if they didn't explicitly say she was Janie's cousin, you'd probably think she was Janie's niece. Mm-Hmm. Like, she feels like she's the generation. Below, but yeah, in, in Holly saying it, you know, from the character that she obviously doesn't intend to cause offense.

[00:08:36] She's not deliberately being rude, just reminds me of the majority of interactions that Larry David has with any human being. Incur your enthusiasm. Just this, this awkwardness and this cringe and oh, oh God, what has she done? But luckily Jerome is pretty kind and patient person who he doesn't really react to.

[00:09:07] It may, maybe he is used to this bullshit and is like, okay, whatever. What am I gonna do with that? I mean, what, what do you do with it?

[00:09:20] Laurel Hightower: Well, and yeah, like most social situations, you kind of make an awkward laugh and you move on so you don't have to continue to have the conversation about it, and then later you go home and text your friends.

[00:09:30] Yeah,

[00:09:31] Michael David Wilson: yeah, yeah.

[00:09:33] Bob Pastorella: Remembering that scene, it, I remember reading that and it just seemed really strange that she had never encountered a, you know, person of a, of a different race. Mm-Hmm. But at the same time, you know, because, and correct me if I'm wrong, but Holly's like, what, 30 something years old?

[00:09:50] Laurel Hightower: She's in her forties, I think towards the end he actually says she's closing it on 50.

[00:09:56] So I don't recall if she might have actually been older than Janie.

[00:09:59] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. And okay, so yeah, she's much older. What a, a sheltered life. That's, I, I, I can't, I can't fathom that. Um, and just, I, I, I, and, and here's the thing. The reality is that there are people really like that. To me, that's just, that's, that's not how you, you, you, you should live, you know?

[00:10:27] Um, there's just the, the psychological damage and trauma is just, to me, it's just unbelievable. But, uh, and I, I've never, I've never met anybody like that before, so that it was really kinda, oh, that's, that's weird. But, you know, whatever.

[00:10:45] Laurel Hightower: Well, it's kind of illustrative too, of how, I mean, like you said, Bob, like that's not a way to live, you know, but it was e illustrative about how that's not really been her choice, you know?

[00:10:53] Right. She's been sheltered to such a ludicrous degree, you know, based on her mother's hangups and so Mm-Hmm. It kind of gives us additional glimpses into who she is and why she is that way.

[00:11:08] Bob Pastorella: But I, I, I have to admire her rebelliousness and, you know, with the, like, the smoking and, and all that, that's, I'm like, yeah, she, she would, she would have a vice, you know, and that, that would be, that, that's probably her, not her only vice, but that's the one that we know of, you know.

[00:11:28] But, uh, I don't know. It just, it's, it's, it, it was very, it was very awkward, but at the same time it was, it, it really kind of hurt me. I was like, God damn man. Her mom was how sheltered.

[00:11:41] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And of course, this unboxing series on the Holly Gibney books, which may go on for years if we're gonna do the modus pace, to be quite honest, like this, this is, as I said before, my first experience with Holly.

[00:12:01] So I'm really interested to watch the evolution of her, because. Yeah, I mean, from my understanding, she's one of the most beloved characters within all of King's books. But I mean, how likable do you think she is in this book? I mean, certainly for me, Hodges is way more likable. Jerome is more likable. I mean, I'm guessing that we are going to see Holly really come into her own as this series progresses.

[00:12:39] I mean, I don't, I don't dislike her, but I don't know, I wouldn't, someone was like, oh, you can go for a pint with Holly Gibney be all right. Washing my hair. I call you, don't have any hair. I'm washing my hair. So how about, how about you two? What do you think about Holly? I

[00:13:06] Laurel Hightower: think that in this book in particular, yeah, she's not real appealing.

[00:13:11] Um, but also some of that is, uh, kind of seen through the lens of Janie's experiences with her. Um, and so that's kind of our first impression. And, uh, I think we've, you know, all know people like that who are like, oh my gosh, it's kind of awkward to have them around and like, they always seem very high maintenance and all the, you know, there's all this other shit going on.

[00:13:31] But I, I really like, uh, as it gets closer to the climax, I really like how King will take that time to like, you know, in the scene where she and Jerome are running through the center trying to catch up with Brady Hartfield, like, you know, minutes away from complete destruction. And her focus in those moments has to do with sort of a high school trauma.

[00:13:57] You know, of being called what? Jba. Jabba, I guess by the guy in high school, the, the bully who was just so perfect, but he had to take the time to, you know, mess with her. And it gives us this without smacking us over the head with it. It gives us this motivation of, you know, this is part of what's traumatized me.

[00:14:14] This is part of what I never got over, and in this moment I can do something, you know? And, and I don't know. I really enjoy that about what King does. I know that some people complain about the length of his books and that sometimes it seems like there's these sidetracks, uh, to what he's doing. But to me it's like that just made the tension that much more.

[00:14:32] And then it, it. I don't know. I feel like I'm not to Holly's level, but when I think about the sort of insecurities and, and honestly I was a weird as shit teenager. Like I don't think I was quite to this level, but I was weird as shit and I didn't know how weird I was, you know? So I think maybe a lot of people might see at least part of themselves in her and really kind of, you know, cheer for how, how she kind of finished things up there with the, with the happy slapper,

[00:14:59] Michael David Wilson: the happy slapper.

[00:15:01] Something that we may return to a little later, but I mean, talking about being weird as a teenager, what, what kind of things do you think were weird about you as a teenager if you wish to divulge?

[00:15:20] Laurel Hightower: The list is probably entirely too long to know, but I will say that a large part of it stemmed from, um. I was not good at reading a room and I was not good at, I read emotions really well.

[00:15:36] I picked up on almost everyone's emotions in every single situation, and it was overwhelming, and I would kind of freeze. And so I feel like I got in the habit of just operating as though if someone didn't tell me specifically, Hey, that's, that's fucked up, or Don't say that, or That's annoying, I'd be like, well, I guess they'd say something, you know, if, if they didn't like this, so I'll say this thing, or I'll do this thing.

[00:15:54] And it didn't occur to me that on the flip side of it with me, I'd be like, oh my God, why would this person say this to me? They have to know the only reason that they would say that is to be cruel, you know, kind of thing. Without that, without seeing it, you know, from the flip side. So I know, I, I mean it's just, it's more the kind of thing that like, you know, in the middle of the night you're trying to go to bed, you're like, oh God, oh God, I really said that, didn't I?

[00:16:14] Yeah, sure did. Sure did. You know that kind of thing. But it's again like the, I feel like hopefully the older you get, the more grace you can give yourself and maybe the more you can look around and be like, yeah, a lot of people were fucking weird too. You know, and everybody was kind of dealing with their own demons.

[00:16:29] But for me, sometimes just, you know, looking at a character like Holly and seeing those particular sort of like anxiety reactions, um, things like that, or, I don't know, they, they humanize her to a degree and yeah, I feel like I definitely liked her better by the end of the book than I did when we first met her and as we're going through it.

[00:16:47] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we said before, but in terms of her introduction, considering how big of a character she becomes, she's hardly even mentioned. We just get about a line and then she doesn't turn up for writing. It's about 50 or 60 pages. So, yeah, it was, I, I mean, I, I think that of course, king knew. What a part of the story she was going to be.

[00:17:14] What a big part of the story. But I don't think at that point he could have known what a big part of his general kind of repertoire she was going to become. Or maybe he would've given her a grander introduction. Could be

[00:17:29] Laurel Hightower: he underestimated her just like everyone else.

[00:17:31] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, Janet. Yeah, there you go. But, and as I have a habit to do e even when we're unboxing something, I do kind of turn things into an interview as well.

[00:17:42] So I, I wanna continue with what you were saying about, you know, being a teenager. Maybe you are like, I don't wanna continue with that. And then, uh, yeah, I

[00:17:52] Laurel Hightower: don't mind. It's been a really long time, so, yeah.

[00:17:56] Michael David Wilson: But you know, you, you were talking about you, you'd reflect and you cringe about some of the things that you said.

[00:18:02] So I wanna know. Kind of at what point, or was there a realization that you're like, oh no, I keep doing this and I need to stop. And then kinda related to that, how often do you think you still do or say things where you're like, oh, why did I go there?

[00:18:26] Laurel Hightower: Oh, I mean, regularly, but, but I think it was probably more of a gradual thing.

[00:18:31] I think for an extent, particularly, I wanna say like late elementary, middle school, I was kind of, maybe my ego protected me, you know? Or I just wasn't real aware. I didn't, I would see people react to me in certain ways. And I will say like. I think I was pretty weird, but also I dealt with bullies who were just jackasses.

[00:18:50] Mm-Hmm. And would've been regardless, you know, I was a target and I get that, but that doesn't excuse their behavior. It doesn't mean that I'm, you know, deserved any of that treatment. But I would, you know, see people do something to me and sort of register like, that doesn't seem appropriate, but I don't know how to react, so I'm just not going to, you know, and then it would kind of just for the most part, leave my mind a little bit.

[00:19:12] But then, you know, as I was getting older and like, I mean, I legit was like not socialized. I did not know how to, uh, make friends. And I mean, I did have friends, um, you know, I had my little nerd group. We were all nerds. It was amazing. Great people. Um, but I didn't, I just didn't really know how, and I didn't know how to talk to people at all.

[00:19:32] I was just felt like my jaw was like encased in cement. Like I couldn't talk if I even wanted to. So, I mean, you know, I think a lot of that stuff was like unintentionally being offensive and sometimes it was almost like a. I felt like this alien who'd landed, you know, and was trying to observe like human customs and be like, well, what if they do, if you do this, you know, kind of thing.

[00:19:53] So I feel like it was just gradually over time. Um, and, but that also, you know, that gets to be kind of cloying to then worry about it all the time because you feel like, you're like, okay, there's obviously something missing in me where I'm not picking up on these, so I can't trust my reactions to anything.

[00:20:09] You know? So then you freeze up even more and you sort of just constantly, you know, are worrying about that sort of thing. And I know that I, I'm sure I do it now. Um. But I also think everybody does. And I feel like that's one of those things where it's like, you know, some of my very best dearest friends who I love completely, um, will, are the kind of people who will say something like, not meaning to be offensive, but like, that's like, wow, that was like objectively crappy.

[00:20:39] But I'm also just like, I know this person. I know their heart and I know I'm fine communicating in that fashion, you know? So I feel like getting older and giving other people grace helps me give myself grace on it too, that like I'm not defined by. And also I, you know, in talking about it, I think part of it was, uh, learning how to, and becoming comfortable with apologizing and talking to people.

[00:21:03] I think a lot of stuff happens because we inadvertently offend somebody or hurt someone's feelings or there's a misunderstanding and we're too uncomfortable to address it, you know? So I feel like the older you get, it's more like, man, you know what? I said this thing. And in retrospect I think maybe it was kind of fucked up and I felt like you, you know, res responded to it that way.

[00:21:19] And I just wanna understand, I'm sorry 'cause I didn't mean it in a particular way. And that sort of thing can really diffuse things and I appreciate it when people do it to me. So, I don't know. I, I think I'll probably always be kind of an, an anxious and, and high social anxiety weirdo to an extent. But, you know, get old enough and you get enough therapy.

[00:21:37] Get better at it.

[00:21:40] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. I think that we all can say things that we regret and we can often say things in elegantly and not quite in the way. We exactly wanted to. I mean, unlike when we're writing, we can't have a redraft. It's like, right. I wanna backtrack and just, you know, edit what has just come out of my mouth.

[00:22:05] But, you know, I mean, the, the alternative is to just not say a lot, to be pretty quiet and stoic and, you know, stoicism is good to a point, but I, I think it doesn't really work to just censor yourself all the point where all the time where you're not saying anything that can then create another problem.

[00:22:33] So people think that's weird too. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's like a, a famous, a famous quote, something along the lines of like, I'd, I'd rather. Be silent and thought of as a fool and open my mouth and, and remove all doubt. And I, I sometimes think of that when I said something that I've regretted. It is like, I talk too much.

[00:23:00] Why, why don't I stop talking? But I don't know, I'd, I think I'd feel more uncomfortable and more stifled if I just didn't say as much if I Yeah, censored myself or stopped myself from saying what my opinion happens to be at the time. But my opinion can, can change quickly. It can change almost as soon as the words come out of my mouth and then I register them and it's like, ah, I don't think that's quite right.

[00:23:34] But yeah, I don't know. What do you think about Holly Bob?

[00:23:41] Bob Pastorella: Um, I think that she was, um, a very first. She, she was very compelling because we have mention of her and we don't even know, you know, how, how she fits into the story. And then she is, she is thrust into the situation and, and she wants to help because she wants to escape the heavy oppressiveness that is her life.

[00:24:09] And she finds a way that she can do it. And, um, and, and, and, you know, and Bill, bill begins slowly to see the value that, that she can, because as awkward as she is, there's a brilliance there that sh begins to shine through. And when you, when you see what, what, what she can cap what she's capable of doing with her mind, it's, it's, you know, he, he begins to see that.

[00:24:44] And I think it, it's, it's, it's, at first it's very reluctant, but he becomes, you know, like, Hey, this, she, she's, she's got something, you know, going on upstairs and she sees things in different ways, and that's very, very powerful. I've seen a lot of my, of myself, like what Laura was talking about in, in her, that was, um, that made, you know, that even made me cringe.

[00:25:10] Um, you know, just going back through, through my life, you know, uh, I was, you know, heavily bullied, uh, up until middle grade. When I fought back then I had no friends at all because I fought back against, you know, someone very popular and won and nobody liked me. And then, um. You know, and I wore glasses and, you know, had butt teeth and, and all that.

[00:25:35] And so then I, I got contact lenses and braces and, uh, began to, and I had hair. I had hair back then. It's weird. And I was, I wasn't always bald. And, uh, and so, and, uh, you know, and started to, to look, you know, more like, you know, everyone else I grew up in a town with, you know, everyone, football, you know, it's high school football and if you didn't play football, you weren't worth a shit, which is not true.

[00:26:01] But they, I, I felt all that. And then, you know, I was one of those people who was extremely annoying when I was in, in elementary school, uh, because I would, I, I love to, to to draw monsters and talk about monsters. So, you know, 'cause horror is my life and, you know, and, and. Uh, you know, if it wasn't sports that, you know, your kids didn't care.

[00:26:31] I felt all that reading about Holly, I was like, man, you know, um, my mom, uh, she's, you know, now that we're adults and everything like that, obviously me and my sister, you know, have have a much better life. And it wasn't that bad, but my mom was very oppressive, so I felt that, um, she was, you know, very overprotective and I, I, I felt that, and so King did a, a great job of bringing that awkwardness in, you know, and, and, but allowing this character to grow and, and show, you know, what brilliance that she

[00:27:06] Michael David Wilson: actually has.

[00:27:08] Yeah. Yeah. Very well put. Bob.

[00:27:12] Laurel Hightower: So were, were you weird in school, Michael? Were you weird or were you, were you always

[00:27:16] Michael David Wilson: very suave? I think I've, I've always been a little bit weird just in, in diff different ways at different times. I mean, when, when I was like, 16 was when I really got into like my golf and metal phase.

[00:27:37] So I, I, I think that a lot of, a lot of people who are into like the kind of alternative scene, like they're into horror, they're into metal, they're into golf culture. Yeah. To a point, just being into these things that are not mainstream. You can feel like an outsider. You can be ostracized to a certain point.

[00:28:03] And then I think for a lot of us, it's like, look, you, you're kind of calling us outsiders anyway. So we are now going to visually express and aesthetically represent it. We we're just gonna go all in. So that, that was the point where like, I started dying my hair, which I had at the time, much like Bob did black and like wearing some eyeliner, always wearing black.

[00:28:29] And just that, I mean, that, that was, that was such a fun time because it went from being like an out outsider in, in school and with the mainstream to, to belonging to finding a family in other places. So then I was, I was really popular within the metal and the golf scene. Um, be before then, I don't, I mean in the UK bizarrely.

[00:29:02] Sometimes academic achievement. And I think, I think it happens in America too. It's like if you are seen to be too clever, that is not a good thing. You don't wanna keep like volunteering your answers. And so I I, I mean, until I learned that lesson that is not good to be seen as clever in a certain circle.

[00:29:26] I would be a volunteer. The answers and that, that apparently didn't, didn't lead me to too much popularity. I think it's the opposite in Japan and the opposite in many parts of the world where intelligence and academia is celebrated. So it, it is funny that in certain parts of the west we have this anti-intellectual culture.

[00:29:52] But it, but it, it is bizarre too because like, you don't wanna be seen as too clever. You don't wanna be seen as too stupid. So you've almost got to just be seen. As, as mediocre I suppose. Don't stand out too much though. As I'm saying that there's almost a paradox because in the west, creativity and artistry is celebrate and individualism is celebrated a lot more than it is in the East.

[00:30:23] So it is weird how, you know, you can be academically bright in let's say Japan with less consequences, but you, you, there are more consequences in the uk but then the UK typically is more open about creativity and being an individual than Japan, which is more concerned with the collective and the society and like pretty much anything in life.

[00:30:54] I think that there, uh, I. Pros and cons of both. And the truth and the ideal is somewhere in the middle, which is quite the tangent to go off on when you just said, Michael, were you, were you weird? And now I'm talking about the education system and the collective and society versus the individual. I doesn't that though, just answer your question.

[00:31:22] I mean, ultimately, yes, this is what happened. This is what's happened throughout my life. People ask me a simple question and I start unkind. People would say spouting absolute bullshit. Kind of people would say, yeah, he goes off on a, on a bit of a journey. He has some things to tell us. So yeah, like I, I, I was not really popular, but I was not.

[00:31:57] Really, really unpopular. Mm-Hmm. I think even though I was a bit weird, the thing that has often saved me and improved my popularity is my sense of humor and making a lot of jokes that that seems to be something that people really like. And I, I remember like there, there was some overnight school trip and they put like, you know, people in random rooms for, for like sleeping.

[00:32:30] So it's like it's me and a load of like quite popular boys. It's like, oh, Jesus Christ. But actually, like, I started like making quite a lot of jokes and they're like, Wilson's pretty funny fucker, isn't he? Yeah, you are right mate. You are right. So yeah, the sense of humor has, has saved me on. On more occasions than one, so, yeah.

[00:32:59] Mm-hmm. Make more jokes is what I'm saying. I like that. Good life advice. Yeah.

[00:33:05] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. I mean, I, I, I went through the same thing. I, when I, I didn't have friends for a long time, like several years, and then I, I'm a, I'm old enough to where, when I turned to, when I turned to 18, I was actually legal to drink alcohol for a couple years.

[00:33:23] That was before they changed the drinking age to 21. And when I was 15, I looked like I was 18 and I had a, I had an old paper permit and I played around with it one day and changed the year I was born to make me 18 years old. And so I started using this permit at stores where I could buy beer and establish a relationship with clerks to where they wouldn't check my ID anymore.

[00:33:54] And so me and my, my small group of friends would always go out and, and have, you know, and, and, and have beers and try to, you know, drink where, you know, we couldn't get caught. And one of the real popular guys found out about that and, you know, and this guy was like, kind of semi bully, uh, ended up going to prison and stuff like that.

[00:34:17] And we, we really didn't, you know, get around him and everything. And he was like, mate, pastor, I heard you got a fake id. I'm like, yeah. He goes, I, I, can you make me one? I'm like, no. Can we, can I use yours? You don't look like me. Mine ain't got your picture in there. It don't matter. I'm, I've established a relationship.

[00:34:41] What do you want? I need beer. I'm like, me and my friends want in at a party. Done, done. Nobody fuck with you. Guarantee it. Get me beer. I'll give you money. So this guy gives me like 500 bucks. So I go buy 500 bucks worth of beer. That's a lot of beer back then. Yeah. And we had the biggest party that I'd ever been to in my entire life.

[00:35:06] And from that point on, almost a guy, I found a way to, to be in, in the in crowd. And so

[00:35:16] Laurel Hightower: we have multiple pieces of advice here. We've got be funny, be of service to people and give them beer and just continue to be weird until finally. You find enough weird people. I feel like I covered the entire ga

[00:35:29] Bob Pastorella: Yeah, I could.

[00:35:29] Being weird. Yeah, I was still fucking weird. I didn't give a shit at that point. You know, good guy with the beer. I'm the guy with the beer. Whole different, you know, with a whole

[00:35:38] Laurel Hightower: different persona.

[00:35:39] Bob Pastorella: And it was like, yeah, it was like one of those, one of those things show up at a party with beer and they're like going, what is he doing here?

[00:35:45] And like, and one of my buddies be like, he's the guy with the fucking beer. Shut up. Here you go. Here's beer, here's beer, here's beer. You know? And so now, you know, hindsight 2020, you know, is like these people were using me. Of course they were fucking using me, but at the same time, I was using them to, to gain some, some confidence in my life.

[00:36:11] And great way to tie it back in. Holly is now with her tribe and she begins to build confidence in her life, which is the one thing that she lacks. From the very beginning and now that all she needed was purpose and it has, and she got with her tribe and she's built confidence. Now, talk about, and that's one hell of a fucking segue right there, big

[00:36:37] Laurel Hightower: daddy.

[00:36:37] That was nice. That was very good.

[00:36:39] Michael David Wilson: Yeah.

[00:36:40] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. Roll the credits.

[00:36:45] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Well, I, I had more to say about being a teenager and popularity, but you're absolutely right. Let's go with your segue and something that, you know, we haven't spoken about. And to tie it back to Jerome, we didn't actually cover in the last part about Brady's plot to kill Jerome's dog. Oh God. Yeah. In the infamous poisoned burger.

[00:37:12] Yeah. So, I mean, he decides that a way to really rile up Hodges. Is right. He'll get to Jerome and he'll kill Jerome's dog. So he, he makes this poisoned burger. He puts it in his mini fridge, a mini fridge that his mother never goes into, apart from, of course she does on this occasion. And so he returns home to find his mom in, in the middle of dying, essentially after eating this burger.

[00:37:56] So, would you like to make any comments on this infamous scene? Uh, it's

[00:38:04] Laurel Hightower: pretty horrifying, but it's also very like relieving. 'cause you're like, oh, thank God I didn't want anything to happen to Odell. I wanted that dog to be okay. Yeah. So, you know, in this instance you're like, uh, but it's also, it's a great, there's some foreshadowing there, um, that I don't think I picked up on the first time I read it in that, you know, just as you said, like, oh, it's this mini fridge she never gets into except, oh, she does this one day.

[00:38:26] Well, he also thinks that she's not hearing or paying attention to anything that he's doing down in his control room. And then, you know, as they investigate it turns out she is listening and kind of taking notes where she can, trying to figure out what it's he's doing. So it's a little bit of foreshadow of like, uh, she's more in business than he thinks.

[00:38:45] Um, and, you know, her dying, of course, serves as. Impetus for Brady. You know, he knows that his time is limited now that she's dead. Like someone's gonna, someone's gonna find her or someone's gonna notice and he's got a, and of course he's grieving. So it's really horrifying. It's definitely, you get that king punch of like body horror and the dread of, like, that as a terrible, terrible way to die, as a god awful way to die.

[00:39:12] And then, you know, for him to decide, well, there's nothing to be done anyways. I'm just gonna like, let her die and I'm gonna go down here so I don't even have to hear her. Um, which of course calls back some to what happened to Frankie

[00:39:25] Michael David Wilson: to an extent. Yeah. And we had said before that the relationship that Brady has with his mother is very Norman Baty in terms of the, the incestuous gross exchanges between the two.

[00:39:46] This. Weird relationship where it, it, I, I mean it is essentially like having a romantic and physical relationship with your own mother, but I feel that there's even more kind of Norman Bates involved or comparisons after her death because then he just keeps her rotting corpse in the house. And as you say, this is the catalyst, which then leads us quite nicely into, you know, that the concert and his plan to use a hell of a lot of explosives hidden inside a wheelchair to not only kill himself, but to kill a lot of innocent people and, you know, to, to make the Mercedes incident at the start look pretty tame in terms of what he has planned here.

[00:40:45] Now I know we. We spoke about it a little bit last time 'cause I also made comparisons to, you know, the, the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. But thi this is, this is a hell of a, a set piece to, to kind of climax the book. 'cause, because this is the, the kind of big moment and then anything that comes after it is more like, I guess an epilogue.

[00:41:15] Yeah. And at the concert, one thing we, we didn't touch on, I don't think is at, at this pivotal moment when you know that they're trying to stop Brady Hodges suffers a heart attack, which then kind of puts Holly and Jerome as, as the, the leading heroes who are going to have to save the day, as it were.

[00:41:45] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. That's. To me, I felt that was a fairly, and I've never had a heart attack, but I know people I have, and the elephant on the chest is usually what, you know, people that I've, that I've known that have had heart attacks. And, you know, you always thought, what, what did it feel like? And they're like, no. It felt like somebody was, like, had their arms wrapped on my chest or, you know, that I got hit and, or somebody parked a truck on my chest.

[00:42:10] I, I really felt this intense pressure and, and could not even catch my breath. And it's just, you know, it, it's this pressure, like pain. And I thought, I thought he captured that pretty realistically. Um. I think, and, and there's, you know, some people have a heart attack, they don't even realize they had one.

[00:42:31] But I mean, Hodges is like, he, he's, he's realizing, and it's been, it was fairly well foreshadowed, you know, because he's already having a pain in his arm and dah, dah, dah da da. So it's like, okay, yeah, this guy's, you know, we're telescoping this stuff. He's, he's gonna have a heart attack. So I thought that was, that was pretty good.

[00:42:50] Um, it allowed the people who are more swt on their feet and, and, and, and smarter and know what's going on to, to take center stage. And I think this is probably where King realized that he really liked Holly, that this is maybe, maybe, maybe she, she can, she can come back in, in, in, in another story. And I think that's, this is probably the part that, that made, you know, that turned her into a star.

[00:43:21] You know, and it's, it's, that's pretty powerful to see it and unfold on the screen, I mean, on the page, rather.

[00:43:31] Laurel Hightower: Yeah, I, I would agree with that. And it was another good sort of tension builder, uh, for it because you know that he's not gonna be able to take active part. And I liked the bit about, you know, he didn't even want them to call an ambulance because he was afraid Hartfield would hear the sirens as they came, if they were close enough.

[00:43:49] I thought that was a really good touch. Um, yeah, and it did. Yeah. Like you said, it allowed Holly to, she probably wouldn't have done it any other way. If she could have gotten an opportunity to talk someone else into doing it. She probably wouldn't have, but it did, it gave her, it gave her her moment, her ability to hit him, not just once, but twice and, uh, cave in the side of his head.

[00:44:08] So,

[00:44:09] Michael David Wilson: yeah. A happy slapper moment. What a name for, uh. DIY weapon as well.

[00:44:18] Laurel Hightower: It sounds very much like something a, a like grizzled detective would call something like that. Yeah. It sounds very NYPD blue.

[00:44:26] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Sock bull bearings job done. And so really, I mean, the, the kind of epilogue then we've, we've got Hodges is saved, you know, by, by staff at the venue.

[00:44:44] And Holly and Jerome, they receive medals from the city and the key to the city, which, yeah. Yeah. I thought that was only

[00:44:56] Laurel Hightower: cartoons, honestly. I didn't know that. I mean, it's an interesting step.

[00:45:02] Michael David Wilson: Yeah.

[00:45:03] Bob Pastorella: But had a Star Wars ending to it. Kind of did. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:45:09] Michael David Wilson: Well, we've, we've Brady as well. Yeah.

[00:45:14] Bob Pastorella: Hero's Journey, villain's journey.

[00:45:16] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. I, I, I don't, Brady was, uh, was done in for good, but you know, he, he awakes and he wants to see Mother.

[00:45:27] Laurel Hightower: Yeah. I, I thought it was interesting. I don't know if either of you have read Rose Matter, um, which is another of King's novels. I don't hear it talked about a whole lot, but it's my favorite of his actually, outside of the Dark Tower series.

[00:45:42] And he has actually used that wheelchair mechanism previously to have somebody like that get into an event. Um, he used that in that book too, and I thought that's, it was, it gave such an opportunity for the misdirect and it also.

[00:46:02] The disabled access area. Uh, and he's sitting next to a girl, you know, who's he keeps describing her as, how she's a pretty girl with sticks for legs, is how he describes her. And he's annoyed that she's smiling and excited because he's going like the world, you know, fuck this chick. She's got crappy legs.

[00:46:20] What good, what could she possibly be happy about? And, you know, and almost saying like, you don't, not any right to be happy. And I thought that was such an interesting look at, you know, because he's a perpetual victim within his own head. All he can do is complain about, well, like this happened because of Hodges and this happened because of my father, and this happened because of Frankie.

[00:46:39] And I just thought it was, it gave for like a really interesting little, little spot there where, you know, you kind of see like, yeah, some of it has to do with, with how you perceive your own role in things. But

[00:46:52] Michael David Wilson: yeah, this is one of those moments where it's like. Better to remain silent than open my mouth and talk some bullshit.

[00:47:01] What, what you've said absolutely is spot on. And it, I, I don't know if I have ever read, um, rose Matter if I have. It was a very long time ago, but you said it is basically your favorite King book, so now it's Yeah.

[00:47:20] Laurel Hightower: Very different. Um, yeah, it's very different from a lot of what he writes. It's very female-centric.

[00:47:25] Um, and I have not read it in a number of years, but I really, I really liked what he did with it. It was such a cool, uh, split story there of reality and, and what else happens in sort of a more supernatural aspect. So I

[00:47:39] Michael David Wilson: like that one. Yeah. Yeah. No, one, one of my favorites is the dark half, which really has a split in terms of reality and personality.

[00:47:53] Uh, we, we've got a question. From John WM Thompson and he says, I'm curious about what you think here personally about King's move into crime novels with or without horror elements. Technically, it might have started with the Colorado kid, but Mr. Sed has felt like a formal statement of intent to make a go of crime fiction, and he's had at least one foot in it ever since up to and including recent offerings.

[00:48:29] Do you think his crime flavored work stands as tall as his horror? Is it as memorable? Do you ever wish he'd do things differently? Personally, I don't find the crime stuff as compelling, but he's got nothing to prove at this point. So quite a lot to unpack there and to get into, and I mean, I, I know that he's talking about King moving into crime novels, but I, I feel the thing with King, I mean, as was said when we were talking to Jason Parin the other day after Carrie, he tried to write a fantasy novel and then got a lot of pushback.

[00:49:24] And then that led to him writing misery, kind of talking about fans being angry at a writer who dared to deviate. And so then he, he did have like a, a lung horror period, but I feel for absolutely decades now and far proceeding. Mr. Mercedes King will just write what King wants to write. And I mean, if you look at Duma Keye, it's more, I, I guess literature or family drama is not really that genre at all.

[00:50:05] And even if you look at things like bag of Bones, it's very understated when compared to like Carrie or Salem's Lot or The Shining, um, I feel with King, he will do what he wants to do, and at this point I have no genre expectations from him because he could just write in any genre at any given time. And I mean, kind of a case in point, he also edited o over 10 years ago.

[00:50:40] Now the. Best American Short Stories, which is essentially an anthology of like kind of New Yorker, Paris Review style, short stories, that Tin House, that kind of brand where you're gonna get people like Mary Gates Skill. And George Saunders fantastic writers by the way, but I, I think he's only tied to horror because he's done such iconic horror works, but.

[00:51:12] I think, you know, Dean Kunz has far more consistently written horror. Maybe now it's like, right, Michael, you're not interviewing me again. 'cause he always steers away from being put in the horror genre label. But I do think if you, if you look at the, the range, he, he, his is more sticking to horror and associated genres.

[00:51:37] Whereas King, he could do anything at any given time. Mm-Hmm. I think that's spot

[00:51:44] Laurel Hightower: on because at this point, and without, I mean this is gonna sound so pretentious, but I feel like he just sort of, he transcends genre to the point where he is his own genre. So it's almost like, you know, whatever he writes is gonna be held up in comparison to what he's written.

[00:52:01] Not necessarily what anyone else has. Because, you know, part of the verbiage on the question was do you think it stands as tall, um, as his horror work and. When you compare it to Giants in the crime genre? Probably not. Um, I don't think that I would put this next to, let's say, Ian Rankin, um, you know, Reginald Till, or P James or someone like that.

[00:52:26] But it's, but because it's his own thing, because it's, I guess that's the thing is like, when I read it, I was like, this is really enjoyable. I liked what he did here. I liked, um, you know, his sort of foray into this. And I, I wonder if it was much of a challenge for him to not utilize any supernatural elements.

[00:52:45] Um, 'cause I feel like in some ways that can get to be like a, but this is what I do. Where's the ghosts? You know, where's the, where's the whatever? But, so I sort of, it felt to me like an experiment that he wanted to try and then I felt like was successful. But yeah, it's hard to, I guess I just don't think about his work in terms of like, who is, you know, how is he compared to so-and-So it's just like, how do I feel about this element of his body of work?

[00:53:10] Bob Pastorella: Yeah. Yeah. I think that using, using the word crime fiction, I is not, I don't know, app pupil is crime fiction. There's no supernatural elements in it. It's a, it's a crime story. It's Rita Hayworth or the Shawshank Redemption. It's a crime story. It deals with prison. Um, it's also deals with matters of the heart and deals with, uh, you know, someone who's, um, intense perseverance, you know, and, and greatly outweighs the oppression ease under, um, and what, what someone's willing to do to, to, to escape that.

[00:53:50] And so that's, that's where some of the, the greatest crime stories are. They're, they're challenges of, of, of the heart basically. Um, but. So I see, you know, bill Hodges is like a foray into detective fiction, which we don't really see that much from, from King. Um, I mean, other than, you know, um, our, our little, a little bits with Alan Pangborn.

[00:54:17] But, um, you know, and, and so that's in, in whatever, whatever police department that he uses and in whatever stories. But Alan's the first thing that comes to mind because he was, you know, primarily, you know, he's in several of, of King's novels, you know. Um, the dark half though is supernatural, is. His crime.

[00:54:45] It's, there's crime fiction in it by, by proxy because he, he's wrote about this vicious criminal, you know, with no supernatural elements. And so, you know, there's, he, he's, he's tapped into it. His first foray into detective fiction, though it's king, I've, I'm like, Laurel. It doesn't, it doesn't, it doesn't compare to the other detective fiction that's out there where these people that, that, that they've made their livelihood off of it, you know?

[00:55:18] Um, and I, it it, but it's a king approach. You know, I'm not gonna write about a detective. I'm gonna write about a retired detective. I'm gonna give myself a challenge. This guy has no access. He's got very, very few resources. You know, he ha he's gonna have to figure, and this, this story is personal. And so all those things, those are, those are king things that we, that we see, you know, come up over and over and over again is this person has got limited resources.

[00:55:44] This is personal, they're gonna have to do it themselves. And so how, how do they do it? Or, or die? So, you know, that's, that's where, that's where I see it as it's still, we're still dealing with matters of the heart. Um, it's just we're looking at it from a, from a different

[00:56:00] Michael David Wilson: angle. Yeah. And when you say it doesn't compare to other detective fiction, I mean, I, I think it quite literally doesn't compare in the sense that it is a different thing.

[00:56:15] So why am I even going to bother comparing it to Raymond Chandler? Mm-Hmm. I'm not going to say. Which is better because they're an entirely different experience. So this is his foray into detective fiction and hard boiled, but it, it's so his foray. Mm-Hmm. That it, it, it would seem absurd to compare it to classics.

[00:56:41] Did I enjoy this book? Hell yeah. Do I think it is worth reading and even worth reading multiple times actually, yes, I do. Mm-Hmm. I would say that obviously, 'cause King has written so many books and so many stories, there are going to be ones that you like and ones that you don't, irrespective of whether they're good, just from purely subjective taste.

[00:57:12] And I would put this in the category of books by him that I enjoyed. So, Mm-Hmm. Almost like when, when you've. Enjoyed the book and you've had a thoroughly good time. It, it seems an almost arbitrary or pointless exercise to then decide like, well, well, where will I rank it? How much did I enjoy it compared to, to other things.

[00:57:39] But I mean, there's so much packed into this question as well, you know, does it stand as tall as its horror? It even depends. How are we going to define that by stand as tool? I don't think it will be as iconic as Pennywise the Clown or as Jack Torrance, although arguably and King might not like this. It could be because of, you know, the, the Kubrick movie that has made Jack Torrance even more iconic, but.

[00:58:21] I, I, I mean, yeah, it is going to be in his less popular from, from a societal point of view and what will remain in the, the, the zeitgeist, but I don't think it's any less accomplished and, you know, whether I prefer his crime fiction or his horror, it really is just going to come down to what type of mood am I in on that day.

[00:58:47] I, I think this is a very accessible read. I think it's an easy read. I don't think there's a lot of filler. There's not a lot of minutia that it gets bogged down in, you know, there are some king books, particularly of a certain era where you could say he embellished quite a lot, where like flourishes of, of description that went on and on and on.

[00:59:15] But you, this is a tightly written book. Do I wish that he'd do things differently? No. I mean, like John says, he quite literally has got nothing to prove at this point. He has written far more stories and books at this point, and probably at the point 20 or even 30 years ago that you could even demand of, of any writer.

[00:59:47] He, he has nothing left to prove to anyone, and if he were to never write anything again, then he has left us with so many tremendous gifts. So he, he doesn't need to do anything differently. And even if I did wish he did, he's not gonna hear this and be like, all right, well stop everything to ber affirm Michael David Wilson of this is, wants me to do things differently.

[01:00:17] Doesn't give a fuck. So yeah, I think what that does leave us with, um, what are the recommendations that we would give people who have enjoyed Mr. Mercedes? And I mean it, the obvious ones are of course, what we've been talking about before. The old school hard boiled detective store is Raymond Chandler, the Maltese Falcon by Dashel Hammit.

[01:00:49] If you really want to go back, which is almost a hundred years old now, my God, that's ridiculous. That makes me feel old. Not that I was about when the original came out, obviously, or I'd be some vampire, but I can't believe, you know, it's reached a point where that is nearly a hundred years old. It came out in 1930, so.

[01:01:14] Oh

[01:01:14] Laurel Hightower: wow. Oh my God. That means it's almost 2030.

[01:01:17] Michael David Wilson: It's, yeah. So sorry. I've depressed everyone. It is like you're meant to be recommending things, not depressing everyone. Yeah. Thanks.

[01:01:27] Bob Pastorella: That's seven years. Seven years. It's 90, 93 years old.

[01:01:31] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Maybe the most obvious Raymond Cler to pair it with is the big sleep, but, Mm-Hmm.

[01:01:39] I, I mean, and then if you, if you want to see King doing different things, joy land, which was his. Hard case crime novel that came out well about five or six years ago now, that is incredibly tight. That is only about 200 pages. Mm-Hmm.

[01:02:02] Bob Pastorella: There's, there's a couple of books that, that come to mind that outside that, that are a little bit more modern.

[01:02:09] Um, some of which are actually quite modern because I, I really, you have to look at it like, if you wanna read something similar to this, um, a book that, that is by John D. McDonald called The Executioners, um, which was made into a film, and it's actually about to be a series done by Martin Scorsese, but it's been made remade twice.

[01:02:33] It's called Cape Fear. Oh. And, and so, and, and you're dealing with people who are suddenly outside of their profession. So that lens, okay, so where, where do we, where do we look at that? So we have, you know, a da, so where do, where do we find that in detectives? Okay. It takes a while to get there, but Michael Conley's books with Harry Bosch.

[01:02:59] Oh yeah. When Bosch turns into his badge and becomes a pi, um, then, then we have limited resources, things like that. Colin also wrote another, he, Bosch ain't his only character though. He tends to, to, to try to get 'em all to work together, you know. Um, but he also has, um, uh, another, another book and it's called, uh, it was made to a movie, not, not good movie, um, called Blood Work.

[01:03:28] And the, the, the, the guy, he's, he, he's a, basically, he's an ex-cop. He left because he had heart problems and gets a transplant. And has to deal with hi, the, the donor's sister wants to know who killed her sister. So there's, there's a, there's a connection there that you don't really see, but you kinda see it in, in, in, in, you know, in Mr.

[01:04:00] Mercedes, there's this connection. And that's, you know, to me, that, that might be one of the closest things that you, that you could get. And the book's, the book's really good. The movie movie's not good, so I don't recommend it. Um, it's probably one of the cleanest Woodsworth films. Um, but, uh, in, in, in a string of course, films.

[01:04:22] But yeah, you know, he, his, his good ones are really good. Um, but, uh. If you can look at, it's Michael Connolly and, uh, of course, you know, I think with the Bosch books, if you found, if you, you started with them with as a pi, I don't think you'd be missing too much because they're, they're kind of written it, it really helps if you follow the series, but it, you don't, you don't have to.

[01:04:47] It's, I don't think it's a prerequisite. Um, so you could probably, you know, get into, you know, his, his later stuff. There's even a first person perspective novel. So

[01:05:00] Laurel Hightower: that's a lot of good stuff. I haven't read much, I read some of Connolly. Um, I had, I've read a lot, a lot of crime fiction, so I kind of had a lot on this for different reasons as far as like, um, Jonathan Kellerman's, Alex Delaware series.

[01:05:19] Um, there's, you know, that's somebody who's not a police officer. He's a, he's a psychiatrist, and so he's also got that sort of limited resource thing. And Klerman does a really good job, I feel like, with characters, um, in, in building up, you know, all those, all those characters I love, I really just love, uh, Ian Rankins, uh, John Rebus series.

[01:05:40] Um, he is incredibly flawed, you know, incredibly flawed and, and, but massively likable. Um, and then there's, I have a lot of like, sorry, I made a really long list apparently, but I had some contemporary stuff on here. I'm actually reading, um, uh, the Nightmare Man. Um. And that's a pretty recent publication and it's, I, I've seen reviews of it that call it very reminiscent of King and yeah, it's great.

[01:06:09] It's really, really good. You know, sort of, uh, detective, police, procedural type stuff going on with a lot of, like the, the main character actually, it, it, it reminds me so much of King 'cause the main character is actually, he's a writer and he's got all this stuff going on and, you know, he's under suspicion and all this, so that's really good.

[01:06:27] Um, I feel like Laird Baron's, Isaiah Ridge series, um, is probably not in tones similar but kind of some of the, you know, some of those aspects of it. And then I also, um, I, uh, John Mantooth, um, his more recent one that I've read is Holy Ghost Road, which is. Absolutely wonderful. But he also has written a series under, uh, the pseudonym, um, Hank Early and his, his Earl Marcus series, especially the first one.

[01:06:57] Heaven's Crooked Finger. Just absolutely Chef's Kiss. Beautiful. Uh, and he's not a police officer to not believe. Um, it's, it's really, man, his prose is so good and it's so compelling and it's so visual. Um, so his work is just really, it, it's something I would definitely recommend as far as like, you know, Michael, you mentioned that this was a very, like, readable book.

[01:07:23] You know, you kind of just like roll through it and, and I've always found that with John's work, so yeah, I would look, I would look for under his pseudonym, Hank Early, and then also anything that he's written under John Mantooth.

[01:07:33] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. And it occurs to me as you were talking and we're thinking about kind of pairings.

[01:07:40] Um, another thing that might be. Good for those who are looking for things that kind of combine crime with just like a, there's like a hint of genre or a hint of horror. And I feel that could be pretty much any of Jordan Harper's books, I think particularly everybody knows. But then Sher Shotgun is an absolute modern day classic.

[01:08:11] So I think if you liked Mr. Mercedes because it was crime, but there was something else going on, it was crime written by someone who's very oay with horror. Stephen King quote Michael says, very oay with horror. The, the understatement. Mm-Hmm. But I, I, I, I could see Jordan Harper's work also appealing. And then if we mention Jordan Harper.

[01:08:43] Just, just the way that my mind works, I then feel, well then of course, that's SA Cosby. I. I think yes. Checkout me, checkout Harper. Yes. I mean, even if, if you read them and you think, oh, that wasn't that like Mr. Mercedes, you're probably gonna go away thinking, but I had a bloody good time. And that is what it is all about.

[01:09:07] He

[01:09:07] Laurel Hightower: is a hell of a reader too. Um, mm-Hmm. I did

[01:09:10] Michael David Wilson: more at the bar with him. Cosby

[01:09:12] Laurel Hightower: or Harper? Cosby. Yeah, Harper maybe too. Um,

[01:09:15] Michael David Wilson: but I haven't, we Yeah, we we're not saying you don't, Jordan, we just can't, not

[01:09:20] Laurel Hightower: you Jordan, but not a reader.

[01:09:24] Bob Pastorella: We got ourselves a reader. Good quote.

[01:09:28] Laurel Hightower: Good quote. Good call back there. You know, um, SA Cosby's a really, really excellent reader.

[01:09:33] He wrote a short story at North at the bar last week, and it was just, oh man. He's just, he's got that tone and, and what he writes and he is got that voice to read it. So it's, yeah. His

[01:09:43] Michael David Wilson: work is excellent. Gonna have to look on YouTube now and see if there's any essay. Cosby Live readings available.

[01:09:51] Laurel Hightower: There might be.

[01:09:52] Yeah. I had, I hadn't heard him before I was there. If you wanna talk about imposter syndrome reading at the same event as Sa Cosby and David Joy, I was like, oh, wow.

[01:10:01] Michael David Wilson: How did I end up here? Yeah. Wow. Is there anything else, Mr. Mercedes, that either of you would like to talk about or do you think we have covered that sufficiently for now?

[01:10:16] Laurel Hightower: The only thing, and I don't wanna spend a lot of time on it, but you know, we talked a little about, um, the way that it just goes on and on about Hodges weight. And it made me so deeply sad when, like, at the very end, you know, the sort of epilogue when he is like, oh yeah, you know, I've lost 35 pounds.

[01:10:32] 'cause his heart attack and almost dying. And then he is like, oh, I wish Janie could have seen me like this. And like, because you feel you have to get to death's door, you know, to get to the, and, and part of it's again, you know, life experience sort of thing. And it seems unrelated, but it's kind of okay.

[01:10:50] So like I had this dog and she was like just built. Chunky, you know, she just looked like a little fat dog. She's a German Shepherd mix. But she was also just, she was just built like that. She was very energetic. The vet had no problems with her weight, but people would always comment on her weight and they'd always, you know, be like, oh, you need to get her lose weight.

[01:11:06] And the day that I had to put her down, 'cause she was dying of kidney disease, I saw her stand out in the yard and I saw that she was very thin and she looked just like what people had been telling me for years she should look like. And so I think that is part of why that particular line just hurt my heart so much.

[01:11:26] You know, that it's like your, your takeaway from that moment is that. Wow, okay. You know, let's, let's concentrate on this ideal body and that's what we should be, you know, focusing on here. And I don't know, from, for me, with, with my dog, you know, that was such a, like a heartbreakingly pivotal moment. Of course, I never put that girl on a diet, you know, I knew she was fine, but that constant judgment and I just thought, yeah, to get to the shape the world wants you to be in, you had to die.

[01:11:56] You know, it's, I don't know. It, it made me very, very sad. It didn't take anything away from the story. It in fact just seemed very poignant because I feel like it's, I wish there wasn't so much of that in, in King's books, but it's also very reflective of society as a whole. It's hugely reflective. It's truthful, you know, that, that people feel that way.

[01:12:16] I just, it made me very sad.

[01:12:17] Michael David Wilson: Mm-Hmm. It's very difficult in society's eyes to ever be. Perfect to ever be. Not even like it, not even as much as perfect, but just for people to be content or to be happy. Like either you're too fat or you're too thin, or you're not muscular enough, or now you're too bloody muscular and or you're too old or you're too young and it, it's all bullshit at the end of the day.

[01:12:52] And the most important thing is to be happy or to be content, aesthetics or arbitrary markers. It, it doesn't change who you are as a person who you are at your core. It's so artificial and superficial, so you know that there should be less of that. But equally, people do things in the media to try and.

[01:13:23] Get clicks or to sell magazines or to get views. And I, I guess like keeping people unhappy, keeps people kinda watching, but it, it is all very silly and silly is understating it because it, none of these things change who you are as a human being, who you are at your core

[01:13:50] Laurel Hightower: or your value or your right to, or you know, to be loved.

[01:13:57] Yeah. Just

[01:13:57] Michael David Wilson: but yeah. Or your worth. Yeah. Well that is the end of the Mr. Mercedes portion at the show.

[01:14:07] Laurel Hightower: I like to leave it on a really high note. You know, definitely not bleak.

[01:14:13] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. How is your writing going? How are things going now after the silent key launch?

[01:14:23] Laurel Hightower: Um, pretty good. I've, with my son starting kindergarten, it's given me a little bit more time in the mornings to write, so I feel like I've got a little bit more of a schedule going that I can actually accomplish things.

[01:14:37] So yeah, I've got, I have another book coming out with Ghoulish in, I think April, March or April of next year. Um, and another project that I think is gonna be February, but inexplicably we're still not allowed to talk about. Who knows? Um, I guess it'll just drop and it'll be a surprise. Uh, and then I've got some other, uh, manuscripts that are pretty well done and.

[01:15:02] I'm gonna query one query with one, and I've got another shorter one that I'm gonna sub as soon as I get back my beta notes on it. So what about you? How's been, how's been the launch for, uh, for House of Bad Memories? I always see good things about it.

[01:15:14] Michael David Wilson: Well, I mean, I, I think like it's difficult to know in such early days, you know?

[01:15:21] Yeah. But I mean, I, yeah, I've heard a lot of positive things in terms of feedback. I'm delighted that I got the audio book after that debacle, but I got a good narrator and have an audio book out in the world, and yeah, people are enjoying it, which is all one can ever really ask for. So, yeah, I, I hope that people continue to pick it up and, you know, for, for me, I, um.

[01:15:54] I am continuing to work on things. I, I always have more ideas than I do time, which is probably a good way for it to be. I finished an another novel Daddy's Boy, which I've mentioned before, and so I actually finished the, the latest draft of it mere days ago. And so now I'm picking up another novel in Progress.

[01:16:25] 'cause like I say that I don't rest. It's like we finish one, we move on to the next. And I said before that I wrote, of course, me and Bob, we wrote the screenplay for their watching. And then we decided, okay, we're gonna go our separate ways and work on solo screenplays together. So I wrote. A screenplay for What Would Wesley do?

[01:16:53] I sent that to my film manager, Ryan, and I know that he's reading it at the moment, and I just got an email from him yesterday, you know, and, and all, all it said was started reading what would Wesley do and Enjoying it. Your screenwriting is really improving, exclamation, exclamation, exclamation. So that was a very positive email that's very positive to receive.

[01:17:26] Like I was absolutely delighted by that. And yeah, because, because, 'cause like we've said before, like screenwriting is, it's a brand new discipline for me and Bob and just because we've found. Some success or some competency with story writing and, and novel writing. It doesn't necessarily mean it will translate to screenwriting.

[01:17:53] I think screenwriting is such a wild beast of a form because it's like, there are so many rules, but there are so many not rules. And it's like you gotta find the vibe. What do you mean find the vibe? Where, where is it? And, and so it looks like I'm, I'm getting a sense as to what my screenwriting voices, what I can do and what I can't do.

[01:18:21] So I'm hugely looking forward to talking to Ryan. It is like, okay, so what, what, what, what do we do now? Like, am, am I. Am I rewriting? What would Wesley, do you want me to now look at the, their watching script and, and throw the vibe in and the things that I've learned? Or do you want me and Bob to, to reimagine their watching?

[01:18:48] Do you want us to kind of have a, maybe Bob's like, fuck that? I dunno what Bob's thinking about that, but, well, I

[01:18:56] Bob Pastorella: mean, I would be, I would be open to that, but, you know, I'm 15,000 words into a novel that I feel like is gonna be Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. And so if I, if I hit over 10,000, that means I'm gonna finish this fucker.

[01:19:10] So that's the way I am. And so, and I'm, I'm shooting for 50,000, so I'm 35,000 words away. Um, and, uh, I, I don't even know if it, if I don't even get there, if I get the 40,000 and finish it, then I've got a, I've got a very short novel, I got a novella. Uh, I'm happy with that. Um, so I, but I also know that I, I have, you know, the last 20 minutes of my script that I need to finish.

[01:19:38] Um, and I, I, unlike Michael, I had to get away from writing scripts for a minute because it was, it was really, it oppressing me. I didn't write any prose for a year, and I had this itch and I could not scratch this itch. And I had, I had to scratch it. And so I'm, I may have like, basically kind of fucked myself, but you know, at this point I don't care.

[01:20:02] 'cause I don't have, you know, I've got a book out on sub. Hopefully I hear something on that soon and good luck. That's great. And then, you know, yeah. Well, and we'll, we'll see. You know, I mean, it could, hopefully, it will be great. I'm, I'm being positive. Um, but, uh, I gotta finish this, but I also need to finish the script.

[01:20:21] I. And wearing those hats, screenwriting or writing is, is, is is really kind of jarring for me. And so, um, I need to get to a point to where I can break away

[01:20:36] Michael David Wilson: and, and

[01:20:38] Bob Pastorella: finish this script and like do it like in a couple of days. You know, bam. Just knock it out. And I wanna do what, what Michael's doing is I, I don't wanna send it to Ryan and, 'cause I actually think that this, this script could, could make one hell of a movie.

[01:20:52] Um, you know, and it's like, I wouldn't do it unless I think I could do something with it. And I'm, I, it, it might not be worth the damn, you know, but I need to, to finish it. And so I'm just, I'm, I'm getting at that point where I need to do it. Um, it's, it's been a minute. I've, I've scratched the itch. I'm 15,000 words in.

[01:21:14] Um, on a short novel, so, you know, yeah. I'm, I've, I've, I've, I feel like I've got things going. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. You know? And writings such a long, and, and Artis, we look, we love to have written, and sometimes we, we hate writing, you know, so, but yeah, I'm, I'm having fun with this. So feeling good about it.

[01:21:35] Excellent.

[01:21:37] Michael David Wilson: All right. Well, I could, if you wanted, talk a little bit about my experiment with TikTok, or we could save that for another day. We needed to circle back to that. Yeah. Well, I mean, we had a conversation with Jason Gin last week, and you know, for those of you who don't know, he essentially, I. Went viral on TikTok and now has become an influencer.

[01:22:11] So he's basically one of the most known writers on TikTok, and he is making half of his income from TikTok. So he, he, I saw that he put out a post on X the other day saying that he feels that this has essentially saved his writing career. And I don't, well, well let, let's talk a little bit about that.

[01:22:37] What have you done, what have been your strategies so people can listen to, to that full conversation on this ra, but I, I don't, well, you know, at, at the moment, it feels like social media is a very, I. Fragile place. And by that I mean that, like I feel that any existing network could break at any time or it might disappear.

[01:23:09] And I feel as well that there's been a trend recently to towards video. And I don't, well let, let's give this a shot. Let's experiment with different things. And so originally the whole thing with this is horror had been like, I wanted to just put clips of this is horror on the channel. 'cause I feel like, do, do I really have anything to say every day that, that like needs to be said?

[01:23:40] But I decided, well, I'll, I'll put a mix of different things up. I'll, I'll post about once a day as that seems to be what TikTok demands of you, which is a quite a lot to be honest, to demand. Of a person, particularly in video. But yeah, it, it seemed up until yesterday, the thing that would be most popular was very stupid video that I made where I start off talking about Chuck Paul, Nick's advice of writing to be, to, to be remembered.

[01:24:17] Not writing to be light, but there's also a Shrek in on screen is trying to kiss me. I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm acting about as well as Tommy Wise is there in, in, in the room. And it's like, what, what, what is this? What's going on? So I'm playing the idiot that doesn't know how to use technology and doesn't know how a Shrek has turned up in, in the TikTok.

[01:24:44] And then that, that was more popular than. Than any of the like writing advice or the real content or the, and it is like, oh God, this just epitomy. This is what I thought TikTok was, and this is what I didn't want to be a part of. But, you know, I, I gave it another go and like, because I, I'd shared some, some writing advice from Chuck Ponick before is Chuck Ponick talking and me getting accosted by a Shrek was doing better.

[01:25:21] I know that he's called Shrek. I'd just find it funny to refer to a Shrek, by the way, if there, there are multiple in,

[01:25:29] Bob Pastorella: well,

[01:25:29] Laurel Hightower: you, you don't wanna claim like that. It was the Shrek. Yeah.

[01:25:36] Michael David Wilson: I, I, I just learned like lit little things like, you know, if you have the video, the, the size of TikTok, if you add captions, if you, there's a certain ways of doing it that it seems to kind of catch on. And so finally I put a chuck clip and it's, and it's doing well. I mean, let, let's have a look. 'cause we've been, we've been recording so could, could have had more views.

[01:26:08] Yeah. So, so I mean, up and up until this point in, in the week that, that the infamous Shrek video had had 769 people check into it. I got this Chuck, Paula, Nick one, so right, that it's now got nearly 3000 views. Great. And it's like, that's, that's great. This is what we're talking about, people actually watching something real, not a Shrek, not someone dancing.

[01:26:36] But, you know, the, the Chuck clip that I had put up beforehand, it had got only 300 views. So I'm trying to work out what is it that the algorithm wants. And, and you know what I, I think my conclusion like a, a after only a week is that I'm probably gonna do what I do with everything. And it is like, don't try and game the system or do what you think the people want.

[01:27:07] Just do what I want. Just do what, what would I want to tune into? And if it was me, I would want to see. Snippets from the podcast and actionable, real advice. I wouldn't wanna see a bold man getting accosted by a Shrek. I would

[01:27:28] Bob Pastorella: wanna get, but I liked that one. I, I liked it.

[01:27:31] Laurel Hightower: So you're telling me you would just scroll on past that you would just.

[01:27:35] Bob Pastorella: Scroll past. No, I actually, I scroll past this other stuff and, but I thought the truck one was fucking outstanding. Did you really? Yeah. I mean, because I mean, I came outstanding. I mean, dude, I cracked up, man. Okay. Okay. I was like, that. The fuck is going on here. This is awesome. Oh. You know, and I mean, because here's the thing, man, it's TikTok.

[01:28:00] Lemme tell you, when I go tot I go, I go there to, to, to watch Michael be accosted by Shrek. Um, I want to see, I go there primarily to see Christian Johnson videos. Uh, he's a, a comedian and he does this character called Uncle Nathaniel, who watches through his window of people fucking up food. And it's, it's fucking hilarious.

[01:28:23] You should look him up. He is. Um, so, so funny. And, and he, he literally says the same thing every time he could, he could do that, but it's, so when you're watching it with the video, it's, it's just, and that, that's primarily what I watch. Um, and it's like, and then, and then they'll show some lady screaming in Walgreens, which I try to swipe past it real fast.

[01:28:44] 'cause I don't want that shit to fill up my feet. So I'm just like, oh, wait, wait, I don't wanna watch this. You know? Um, because it, it'll, if you, the longer you stay on something, you know, the longer, the more of that it'll put into your feet. You know, so I get, you know, a lot of comedians and then I see Michael, you know, being accosted, byre, and I'm like going, this is fucking great, man.

[01:29:03] This is, this is the, this is the content I want. When you see where my mind goes with that, and I'm, I'm, me personally, and we've talked about this, we've talked about this with Jason and I, I'm just, I'm, I'm probably gonna be like one of those people on TikTok who just watches videos. Mm-Hmm. I, I, no, I probably won't do it.

[01:29:25] I'm, I'm, I'm extremely, especially if I'm ho if I'm controlling the camera. I can imagine my first video would be, um, basically not, never would, would never happen. I would pre, I would be on blue sky going, attempted to do a video. Fuck this shit. So, um, because I'd be like, okay, I'm gonna take it again. I'm gonna, no, that, that wasn't right.

[01:29:49] I don't like the way it sounded. Yeah. And, you know, and I just, I, I, I couldn't do it. And, and, and being on video, I just, I, there's no way I could do it.

[01:29:57] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. There are, there

[01:29:59] Laurel Hightower: are pitfalls to it. I don't, my take on TikTok is more that I. I think the benefit has to do with the reviewers who, you know, have built their audience and built their presence there.

[01:30:11] So I kind of mostly just even created an account because people kept sending me videos from TikTok and for, 'cause my phone is ancient and sucks. It was like, it wouldn't play tiktoks for me without having an account. So it was like the only reason I did it. But, um, just so that anybody's aware of this, I don't even know how I managed to do it except that I don't know if the buttons were next to each other or what.

[01:30:32] So mostly I just, I'll record like reviews or I might record just like a little like positive statement or something. So I had put this little video up that just said like, Hey, do you feel pretty today? Well you should 'cause you're fucking awesome or whatever. Something like that. It was real short, whatever.

[01:30:47] And then I went to she it on Twitter last week just because I was like, oh, let's put something else, you know, and somehow managed to dmm it to people. And I did not realize that. And, and then I was like, oh, this is, is this like the equivalent of like sending dick pics? Like I'm just like, Hey, I'm up in your dms telling you you're hot.

[01:31:06] I was like, oh my fucking God. I didn't realize I'd done it. I don't check TikTok that often. And I've got messages from like two of my guy friends that are like kind of like giggling or whatever, whatever. And then I see a notification that says to nav, do has replied. And I was like, fuck. You know? I really thought that.

[01:31:22] I was like, oh my Jesus. I sent it to everybody. And I'm like, Jonathan Mayberry's gonna be, what the fuck? No, thankfully it appears to have only gone to John Bender and Brian Bower, who were both very nice about it. And I was like, thank God, because that could have gone really, really bad. So just fyi, apparently it's really easy for some of us to accidentally DM videos.

[01:31:42] Bob Pastorella: This is why I'm not doing it.

[01:31:44] Michael David Wilson: There is also a live button very close to the make a video button. Oh God. It's like, I don't wanna accidentally go live. Mm-Hmm. That's good to know. We, we, I've only done, as I say, a week of, of kind of trying to do this hardcore and. This is what I mean about changing one's mind.

[01:32:07] Since Bob has reacted so strongly and positively to the Shrek video, then like I, I guess, you know, I won't just put clips from the po I, I'm gonna continue to experiment because I think as well from what I understand about the algorithm, it's like the more frequently you you are posting, the more popular things are, then the more that they reward you.

[01:32:32] What's very unique about TikTok is that the majority of traffic is them recommending it to people who don't follow you. So this, if you can get it right, this is an opportunity to get your stuff out in front of a new audience. So, you know, many people who don't know me have seen me be accosted by a Shrek, but.

[01:32:55] I can't wait till you get recognized for that. Yeah, I'll, I'll do, I'll do a combination of podcast clips and then kind of original content and I'll see what people want and may, maybe it is more the humor, but I also, I don't wanna be like a kind of TikTok ideas machine. I can already see after a week how it fuck with your brain.

[01:33:20] You're start thinking, here's a way I could do something. Yeah. Well one idea that I had for a

[01:33:26] Laurel Hightower: funny, I'm gonna stop that, but actually first I've got some other ideas. Yeah.

[01:33:31] Michael David Wilson: Well, since, since Bob was down, down for the Shrek I, I'll, I'll do my other kind of idea that I had because like, like I do so kind of House of Bad Memories, promo E, but a lot of people's favorite character has been Jade and I've had some people.

[01:33:54] Say that they kinda learned some new British phrases. Oh, so I've gone through the first hundred pages and I've written down every insult that Jade has given someone, and I don't, I'd just read them out.

[01:34:10] Laurel Hightower: Yes. I, I think that is quality content. That

[01:34:13] Michael David Wilson: would, that

[01:34:14] Bob Pastorella: would, that would be pretty good.

[01:34:16] Michael David Wilson: Now be honest, it's only gone up to page 100 because I thought that that's enough of me looking through my You can always, you can always do a second or third video.

[01:34:25] Exactly, exactly. If people like it, then there'll be a part two and oh my God. If they, if they like this, then they'll have to wait a while. But if, if you think Jade's insults were good, you wait till you read Daddy's Boy, we have got some creative insults indeed.

[01:34:45] Bob Pastorella: Michael David Wilson, known for being accosted by Shrek is also a writer.

[01:34:51] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. By By re,

[01:34:54] Bob Pastorella: I'm sorry. By

[01:34:55] Michael David Wilson: re By re, yeah. Well, yeah, I think, I think the next TikTok video will probably be another Paula Nick advice, because it's like, look, you, you give the people what they want. That one did well. Yeah. So let's give them some more Paula Nick advice. But when those numbers dip, we'll either have a Shrek, 'cause that is another Shrek filter.

[01:35:19] So I can have like,

[01:35:20] Bob Pastorella: or you can do, you can be accosted by a donkey. Like, no, hold on. Nevermind.

[01:35:25] Michael David Wilson: Or, or, or we'll go for Jade's insults. But it, yeah. Yeah. Tik TikTok, it's difficult because it's like whatever I'm giving, I want it to be. Worth it. I don't want it to just be, I did this arbitrary thing, so I want it to provide value in some way.

[01:35:45] Whether that is laughing at a Shrek or whether that is learning something. And yeah, I think particularly if you're putting content out every day, you're gonna start phoning it in, which is why, you know, putting clips from the podcast out is such a positive 'cause that's stuff that's already there and it's not phoning it in.

[01:36:08] Yeah.

[01:36:08] Laurel Hightower: You don't have to stage anything for

[01:36:09] Michael David Wilson: it. Yeah. When that about does it for another episode of this says horror. Laura, do you have any final thoughts that you would like to leave people with? I was

[01:36:21] Laurel Hightower: really gonna try to come up with something clever having to do with the accidental dick pic video, but I, I don't really have anything so, but I, but I very much enjoyed Mr.

[01:36:32] Mercedes and I would recommend

[01:36:33] Michael David Wilson: it. Okay. And Bob, just to finish, what is your favorite Shrek or Shrek adjacent movie?

[01:36:41] Bob Pastorella: Um, yeah, I think it's Shrek iii where the little boy wants him to do the roar and he, he tells him to do the roar. Do it. Do it. That's, that's, that's my favorite.

[01:37:00] Michael David Wilson: We'll see you in the next episode.

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